The Washington Post
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Best kebabs

Justin Rude  |  Updated 11/11/2011

This area doesn't lack good kebab restaurants: Turkish, Afghan, Persian and Pakistani kebabs are all well represented. But I always seem to find myself gravitating toward the last. The cuisine of Pakistan reflects the country's heritage as a central point on the ancient Silk Road, and the marriage of Indian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors makes it one of my favorite food traditions. These three kebab stops, one each in Maryland, the District and Virginia, are good examples of the style.


Kabob n Karahi

Silver Spring, MD

This Silver Spring restaurant opened three years ago and immediately received attention for the authentic and complex flavors of its food. The lamb chops are crisp and flavorful and carry a nicely smoky flavor, thanks to the charcoal fire they're cooked over. The bone-in chicken kebab, a favorite of part-owner and chef Raja Khadka, is meaty and moist and has a nice kick. The marinated chicken boti kebab is not as tasty, but for carryout diners the boneless entree is the easier choice for eating at your desk. The restaurant's signature dish is the karahi, a dine-in meal of stewed, curried meats and vegetables served in the woklike pot it's cooked in. The chicken version (goat, lamb, lamb brain and kofta are also available) is heavily aromatic and vibrant with ginger and garlic and generously spiced with fresh chilies.


Mayur Kabob House

Washington, DC

The first thing you might notice about this K Street restaurant is the building's exterior. Stonework and Tudor Revival-style half-timbering make the location look more like a home for a German beer garden or an English pub than a halal kebab house. But inside is another story. On the menu, you'll find rich curried chicken, smoky lamb kebabs and stewlike marinated goat dishes. At lunch, Mayur offers a buffet that changes frequently and explores the full range of the kitchen, including kebabs and Indian curries. A weekday stop might find mild chicken tikka alongside fiery and juicy lamb karahi. Vegetarians need not stay away: The strong Indian influence means there are plenty of meatless dishes in the mix. Mayur does especially good things with chickpeas (the chana Peshawari) and lentils (the dal makhani). If you show up late in the lunch hour, you might see a real testament to Mayur's kitchen: cooks from nearby restaurants grabbing a meal before dinner service.


Ravi Kabob House

Arlington, VA

Mohammad Afzal and Abdul Alnoor have been running this cash-only kebab joint in a tiny Arlington strip mall near Glebe Road and Route 50 for almost 15 years. As the restaurant aged, its reputation grew. In fact, the crowds became so intense that five years ago the owners opened a second location across the street. Almost everything on the menu can be recommended: rich lamb, spice-kissed chicken and a broiled, zesty beef sausage. A Lahori-style fish kebab is a nice surprise for those expecting nothing but cubes of grilled meat. Sole is marinated in a blend of house spices, then battered and deep-fried. The one dish that really sets Ravi apart, though, is its chole, a thick chickpea curry that is bright orange with spices and carries a lingering heat that builds as you eat. That the chickpeas (made with a secret spice blend handed down to Afzal from his mother) are the most popular item on the menu really says something, considering how well the kitchen grills meat.


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Editors' Picks: Best kebabs
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